PittsburghMom

PittsburghMom is our original, featured blog by Heather Starr Fiedler.  Heather created PittsburghMom in March 2008 and began this journey.  Heather is the mom to two young boys, Matthew (9) and Benjamin (7), a college professor and General Manager of PittsburghMom. She's busy, but not too busy to blog about her sometimes serious, sometimes painful and often humorous thoughts on life and share her favorite Pittsburgh spots for families.

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Things that go bump in the night

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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I can't remember the last time I slept through the night. I'm sort of like a newborn except instead of waking up because I need to be fed, I'm waking up because my children don't know how to sleep through the night.

Each one goes through stages where they sleep really well and stages where they don't. Right now my 9 1/2 year-old is currently in a "not sleeping well "stage.

He has suddenly developed supersonic hearing and seems to think he can hear every little noise, creak, siren, train whistle and bump in the night.

Not only can hear them, but he has developed some anxiety about these bumps in the night. He's woken up every night for the past week scared of some noise that he's heard (or believes he's heard.) We do live relatively close to some train tracks and you can sometimes hear the train running. It's not loud and there is no whistle, but he seems to think he can hear it, and it scares him.  Every time the heater kicks on it wakes him up and scares him. Every time the cat knocks something around in the house it wakes him up and scares him. Every time the wind howls it wakes him up and scares him. You get the picture.

And every time he wakes up scared he comes into our room and scares the living daylights out of me waking me up in a panic insisting that the world is coming to an end. Then he lays in my bed for the next hour and asks excitedly "what was that noise?!", what was THAT noise?! " Eventually he calms down enough to fall back to sleep but by that point of course I am wide awake.

I know this is just a phase and in the grand scheme of life I'm not too terribly concerned. If some extra snuggles with my oldest is the worst thing that happens to me this week I will gladly take it. But I'm wondering how to calm his anxiety about these noises and how just long the phase might last.

 

Any suggestions?

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Parenting fail

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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Those of you that have followed my blog for a long time know that I am a fan of keeping it real. I'm thrilled to celebrate my successes as a parent but I'm also willing to tell you about the times that I have dropped the ball. A couple of weeks ago I had one of my biggest parenting fails to date.

Sometime last year, I decided that my children were old enough to brush their own teeth. In fact I was so confident in their ability that I didn't really monitor said toothbrushing very well. I handed them their toothbrushes and went on about my other chores.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when both children had dentist appointments. I think you know where I'm going with this but I'll just go ahead and say it. There were cavities. Lots of them.

The good news for my older son is that they were on baby teeth so they're not even going to bother filling them because the they will just fall out soon anyway.

But my little guy has a few cavities that need to be filled. I was so mortified when the dental hygienist came out and told me that his teeth were full of plaque and he obviously wasn't brushing very well. I hung my head regretfully, and did the walk of dental shame back to the car and promised myself and the kids to do a better job.  

I love our dentist. In fact, everyone at our dentist's office is awesome. I have no complaints about that. This is totally my fault. A parenting fail.  

We went back for the first of his fillings last week and I can assure you that he will be brushing his teeth better from now on. Not only am I monitoring toothbrushing, but he really did not enjoy having his cavity filled and I think the reality of it will stay in his mind each time he brushes.  We have another appointment in the morning and he's begging to get out of it (not happening, kid).

The dentist also gave us these awesome tablets that the kids can chew on which will then highlight the areas of plaque in their teeth, allowing them to know where they've missed. I found them so useful that I went ahead and ordered more. I think I'm just going to make them use them every day until they really understand what it takes to brush their teeth correctly.

Of course, I could start brushing for them again, but I'm not sure that's the best solution either. They need to learn how to do it properly themselves. 

Our goal now is a cavity and plaque-free house for the next year at least. And I'm also going to check in on all those other little things I thought the kids were old enough to handle on their own (is that closet really clean?)

 

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Sugar free Valentine's Day

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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As you know, Valentine's Day is coming up this weekend. We are in an unusual place in our house when it comes to Valentine's Day. We just booked a summer vacation to the beach and both my husband and I really want to get in great shape before we go, so we are watching what we eat very carefully.

In addition to that, my children's school has instituted a no food policy at the school all day every day (with the exception of lunch, of course). That means that there are no food-related Valentines items allowed.

So between my husband and I not wanting to eat chocolate and not being able to send any food into school, I've had to get creative with Valentine's Day this year. It's not a holiday that we put a lot of stock into, so my husband and I will probably just exchange cards.

But obviously the kids want to bring in something to exchange with their friends and put in their Valentines boxes. Enter Pinterest for inspiration. I also wandered around Target for quite a while trying to find some things that might work.

I ended up with what I think are some cute ideas that took me about five seconds flat to create, which means a winner in my book.  Now we can still celebrate the day without worrying about breaking any rules.  While I think that it seems silly not to allow any Valentines treats (kids take the boxes home, so it's not like they would be eating the treats in school anyway) I do like that we're teaching our kids to celebrate things without food.  It seems to be the wave of the future, so we might as well get used to it and look on the bright side.

 

What are your valentines day traditions?

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Vacationing with friends

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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We booked a summer vacation today. Yay!

We try to take a family vacation each year as soon as the kids get out of school.  The past few years we've gone to Orlando with the kids. But after several years doing the same thing, we decided to switch it up this year. We really wanted to see and explore somewhere new.  We debated both a cruise and an all-inclusive vacation. We had done a short cruise with the kids last year and loved it and Mike and I did an all-inclusive for our 10-year anniversary a few years ago and absolutely loved it as well.

After debating and pricing out each of the options, along with getting recommendations from friends, we found a fabulous option within our price range in Jamaica.  

On a whim, during dinner last weekend, we texted some friends and told them we decided they should come with us.  Both couples texted back immediately and asked for more details. Then more. And even more.

By Monday morning we were all on the phone to the travel agent getting prices and this morning we all booked the trip together. I'm still in shock that it came together that quickly.

So now reality sets in that we are vacationing with 11 people instead of our usual family of four.  I'm so very excited. The kids are going to get so spoiled by having friends to play with 24/7.   I think each of the three families has slightly different styles, but I'm hopeful that, because this is a small all-inclusive resort, we'll be able to just do our own thing on our own time and there won't be any pressure to all follow the same schedule.  

Hopefully ;)

It could go beautifully and we'll never want to vacation alone again. 
Or we'll ruin a beautiful friendship.

I'm fairly certain it'll be great. Time will tell :)

Would you or have you ever vacationed with friends or do you like your space/privacy? Any tips from those of you that have?

 

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Teaching the unteachable

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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My son finally learned how to tie his shoes this week. Sort of. But I'm calling it.

He's eight. 

I know, I know. He should have learned that a long time ago, and I agree. But the boy is stubborn. And rather unteachable. Does anyone else have a kid who refuses to let you teach them anything.

I typically get "I don't need to learn that" or "I already know that". And we both know neither of those is generally true, but he doesn't back down.

So after years of trying to get him to let us to teach him to tie is shoes, I finally asked on a good day and had about 10 minutes of his attention before he declared himself "schooled" and refused, once again, to let me help any further.

It's not just the shoes. He's like this with other things as well. But it's only at home (thankfully). As far as I know,he's never refused to let a teacher help him.

I think it's a combination of being too proud to ask for help and a fiercely independent streak. He wants to learn things on his own, he doesn't not want to have to rely on anyone to help him. This carries over to all aspects of his life.  If we're playing basketball and I give him a tip he scoffs and tells me he already knows everything. He doesn't want to take swimming lessons because "he already knows how to swim". And god forbid I try to help him with his homework.

Right now we can usually just let him have his stubborn way, but I worry about the future, especially of homework. He is able to do it all on his own now but some day he WILL need our help and he's going to have to learn to accept it. 

I'm just not sure how to convince him of that.

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